What do the papers make of election drama?

As the nation awaits a new government, Germany's newspapers are rife with speculation over possible coalition negotiations. The Local's media round-up takes a look at their reaction to the election results.

What do the papers make of election drama?
Photo: DPA

But despite the initial euphoria, Germany’s press agreed on Monday that gaining a narrow absolute majority could be a poison chalice for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU).

Der Spiegel news magazine noted on Monday that the CDU’s initial excitement at the possibility of ruling alone may have been ill-considered. “A single-party government, and one which took the majority by only one or two votes, would have been rather stressful” it noted.

CLICK HERE for photos of election night from all the parties.

Don’t be too quick to call it a triumph for the CDU/CSU, agreed the Tagesspiegel. “An absolute majority is in itself a great thing. But an absolute majority of just a few votes, that’s hell.” Merkel has to find a coalition partner, to form a stable government – otherwise “every single vote on further euro zone bailouts will be a gamble,” it added.

The biggest blow for the CDU was the annihilation of the party’s preferred ally the FDP, said the right-leaning daily Welt. “It can happen so fast. The fall of the FDP was spectacular, and unique in Germany’s history,” a fall the paper called “righteously earned. Elimination was justified. Liberals love a performance-based outcome, so really they have to appreciate this brutal result.”

And with the FDP’s fall came the rise of newcomer eurosceptic party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The success of the seven-month-old protest party, which ultimately also missed out on seats in parliament, is nevertheless a worrying development, the German press said.

“The very good result for the AfD … destroys all hopes that the protest troupe will disappear as quickly as it appeared. What the old guard always warned against has now become a reality: a party right of the Union, but not far-right.” And this is worrying, wrote Welt, especially with the FDP out of the picture. “Germany needs the FDP, desperately” as a party which offers voters something between the CDU and the AfD.

Now, with their preferred partner vanished overnight, the CDU is looking in need of friends, wrote Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. For once none of the opposition parties are jostling for position to join government. “After this election a lot of things are not the same … The Union has lost its most important ally … at the very moment of their biggest success it is in some ways more alone than it has ever been.”

A grand coalition is the only realistic course for Merkel, speculated the left-leaning Süddeutsche Zeitung, but it is clear the Social Democrats (SPD) will play hard-to-get. Defeated chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück was still rejecting all talk of a coalition with the CDU on Sunday night, stressing his party would be better off in “strong opposition.”

This “expressed exactly what many Social Democrats are feeling,” the paper said. “The memories of the disastrous 2009 election are still fresh. Many believe the SPD is still suffering” for that. “The party will make a fuss, will demand a high price … to satisfy the grassroots. Merkel would have to move an appropriate amount towards them to make a half-way stable coalition.”

The Süddeutsche asked – “does the [SPD] want, from a position of weakness, to enter into a grand coalition, or does it want to leave Merkel hanging and wait until the day a left-wing majority in the Bundestag overpowers her?” Probably something in between, wrote the paper, the SPD will play up their advantage in any coalition negotiations by “exploiting the Union’s loneliness.”

The CDU know this, which is why papers believe the more attractive option now seems to approach the Green party to form a black-green coalition. Could Merkel have been planning this all along? asked Bild daily tabloid. The clue lies in her jewellery choice for Sunday night.

“Around her neck, Merkel (59) had a string of black stones and light green pearls” which, the Bild mused, may have been foreshadowing future coalition arrangements. “The hunt for a partner continues,” it added.

“Over champagne and wine [on election night] some Union politicians began to brood. Maybe black-green would be the better variation?” added the Süddeutsche Zeitung. As it is, until SPD head Sigmar Gabriel “brings round his grassroots,” Merkel “can mull over whether black-green really could be a refreshing Alternative for Germany.”

The Local/jlb/jcw

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Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday made a push for equal pay for men and women international footballers after Germany's successful run at the recent European Championships.

Pay women footballers the same as men, says German chancellor

“My position on this is clear,” Scholz said after a meeting with the German Football Association (DFB) to discuss the issue.

“We talked about how we can continue to help more girls and women get excited about football. Of course, the wages at such tournaments play a major role in this,” he said.

“That’s why it makes sense to discuss equal pay. I made the suggestion and I’m very grateful that there is a willingness to discuss this issue.”

Germany scored their biggest major tournament success since 2015 at this year’s European Championships, losing to England in the final at Wembley.

Scholz attended the final and also supported the women’s team by tweeting: “It’s 2022, and women and men should be paid equally. This also applies to sport, especially for national teams.”

READ ALSO: Scholz to cheer on Germany at Euro 2022 final

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP headquarters on Tuesday.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the DFP (German Football Association) headquarters on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Germany’s women would have received €60,000 each if they had triumphed at the tournament, while the men would have received €400,000 each had they prevailed at the Euros last year.

Bernd Neuendorf, president of the DFB, said he understood the argument “that equal work and success should also have the same value”.

“I’m willing to discuss in our committees whether our payment system is up to date or whether it should be adjusted,” he said.

Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg suggested that international footballers’ wages could be evened out by paying women more and men less.

Officials must now “follow up with action” after the meeting, she said in an interview with the ZDF broadcaster.

Scholz said he was “very, very proud” of the women’s performance at the Euros, even if “it didn’t quite work out”.

“I hope it will have a long-lasting effect, not only on the players themselves… but also on football in Germany,” he said.